Although it is still the season of miracles, it is also, without question, the season of difficult family relations. When you are young you have to see all your strange cousins and have your cheeks, etc., pinched by various aunts and uncles. As you get older there is the “bring home the laundry” holiday. When you get married there is the “whose family do we see for this one” holiday. When you have children there is always the “which grandparents get to see the babies” holiday. Because we no longer live in stable long term communities with multi-generational families; because we travel far and wide for college and there meet our mates; for lots of reasons in this global time, the holidays can become very divisive and contentious. And that’s before you actual see any of your relatives. Families are weird. You tolerate behaviors in your family members that you would never tolerate in any other house guest; you actually invite them back! You permit them to abuse your home, your spouse, your children and your good will and you love them anyway. Families are full of secrets. It is where we learn to gossip! Things are told to this one or that one, but kept from others for all kinds of reasons. This behavior is generally not accepted in most other adult groups, like workplaces, for instance. In your adult life you may have a friend or two that you tell your “secrets” to, expecting your confidence will be kept without a warning not to tell any particular other person. In families, you cannot expect your confidence to be kept, you must post a warning and identfy to whom it applies. Your family feels free to tell you all kinds of things, under the guise of love (geniune I’m sure). They can tell you that you are fat, pig headed, ignorant, unhealthy, etc., all for loving reasons. Would you continue a relationship with anyone else who told you these things regularly…..I think not.